DA slams Zuma's 'unwise' Van Rooyen remarks

Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma’s claims that Des van Rooyen was more qualified than any minister he’d ever appointed in the Finance Ministry was “unwise”, the DA said on Monday.

Zuma said during a press conference at the Union Buildings in Pretoria that Van Rooyen was his “comrade” and that “he's a trained finance and economic comrade and more qualified than any minister I have ever appointed in the finance issue”.

Zuma was speaking at the launch of the Presidential Press Corp (PPC).

In response the DA said that with 48 hours to go before the most important budget in more than 20 years, it was extremely unwise for Zuma to try and defend his appointment of Van Rooyen as finance minister in 2015.

“The statement not only undermines the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, by suggesting that he is second best, but is likely to make his job more difficult by undermining investor confidence ahead of the tabling of the budget on February 24 2016 in Parliament,” DA Shadow Minister of Finance David Maynier said in a statement.

In December, Zuma faced a backlash after he announced that he was replacing finance minister Nhlanhla Nene with Van Rooyen, who was an ANC MP at the time.

There was a public outcry and calls for Zuma to be recalled over the move, which saw the rand reach record lows.

Four days after the announcement, Zuma backtracked, replacing Van Rooyen with Pravin Gordhan, a respected former finance minister.

The rand recovered somewhat.

Zuma on Monday said as president he took decisions, which was his constitutional right.
"They want to take decisions on behalf of the president, at times including some in the media, not everyone," he said.

"You may not know why I took that decision, you might get very good reasons why, but if you don't know you speculate on the basis of what you see, when there might be very serious reasons," he said without giving any further details.

The ANC on Friday replaced Van Rooyen with Hlomane Chauke on the Standing Committee on Finance.

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